Rest to Work or Work to Rest?

The N.C.A.A. has taken an image-beating in recent years. Angry critics of its alleged exploitation of student athletes have been relentless in their attacks on both the institution and its leadership. Chief among those who bear the liberally dealt blows is Dr. Mark Emmert, president of the N.C.A.A. In a recent article devoted primarily to the psychological toll that the job and its pressures have taken on him, the Times sought to expose something of his complicated character and work. Dr. Emmert, a heavily-compensated, highly capable, would-be reformer, seems simply to be the most prominent face of a incredibly complicated, clumsily democratic, and highly bureaucratic business that exceeds the capacities of any one man. To cope with the stresses of this life, Dr. Emmert compensates in charming fashion: “To help keep calm, Dr. Emmert meditates and visits his home on Whidbey Island in Washington. He has been taking a butchery class.” Continue Reading »

Roland in Moonlight

In my dream, I had just entered the sitting room of my house. It was still several hours before dawn, but music was quietly playing: I heard the last lines and fading chords of Schubert’s “Der Leiermann,” in the recent recording by Jonas Kaufmann, before silence fell. I was . . . . Continue Reading »

ISI’s Paolucci Book Award

ISI is currently taking nominations for its Henry and Anne Paolucci Book Award. This award honors the best book of conservative scholarship published in 2013. You can read more about the award at

The deadline is today: Friday, May 16. The more suggestions, the merrier!

Email suggestions Jed Donahue at, and be sure to include the names of the books.

Mad Men Gone Schizoid

Season Seven, Episode Five (“The Runaways”): A very disjointed episode of Mad Men. Don Draper is marginal to most of its action; two watchable characters (Roger Sterling and Joan Harris) are absent from it entirely; and we endure two eruptions of gratuitous weirdness, one in the form of kinky sex, the other in the form of sexualized mutilation. Altogether, we find the story de-centered and distinctly schizoid. Continue Reading »

True Detective and the Problem of Personal Significance

It has been several months since I saw HBO’s first season of True Detective, but something about the series has stuck with me. Detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart investigate a series of bizarre ritualistic killings, but to be honest, I didn’t care much about that. What stuck with me was Rust’s pain and, even more, Marty’s domestic failures. Each man tries to explain and explain away his actions, but neither man is able to live according to his professed philosophy. Both men talk about and talk around the burden of living as beings that matter in a world of other beings that matter. Continue Reading »

Bob Dylan’s Mormon Influences

Bob Dylan has a lot in common with Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet. Don’t take my word on that: Listen to the man himself. He made the comparison in a 2012 interview with Mikal Gilmore that was published by Rolling Stone, one I discussed last week. Continue Reading »